The best Lesson you will ever learn: Don’t be an UMNO Rent Seeker

May 1, 2016

The best Lesson you will ever learn: Don’t be an UMNO Rent Seeker

An UMNO Rent Seeker Par Excellence: Just suck up to Najib Razak

Retitled from I’ve Worked For Two Billionaires (Enver Yucel  and Oprah Winfrey). Here’s What I Learned From Them by Paul Carrick Brunson, Entrepreneur and TV Host

I have spent decades “being educated” –  in college, graduate school, numerous professional certifications, and now a PhD program. All of that schooling and training helped shape the person I am today, but at no point in my life  has there been a more profound education than my time working for Enver Yucel and Oprah Winfrey.

Enver and Oprah (above) are two extraordinary people. And on top of that, they’re both billionaires. On the surface, they appear to be totally different people. They are in different industries, have different family structures, practice different religions, and speak different languages. However, once you get past their written biographies and dig deeper, you will notice they possess many of the same successful habits.

I had the opportunity to work with both Oprah and Enver for 6 years collectively and those were, hands down, the best professional experiences of my life. I worked my ass off for them and in doing so absorbed everything I could.

It’s my honor to share with you what I learned from them. Here is Part 1 of the 20 successful habits I learned working for two billionaires:

 1) Invest in Yourself

This is a very simple concept, but something you would think someone who has “made it” would stop doing. Not at all for these two. I saw them both spend a significant amount of time dedicating their resources to self-development  (whether it be a new language, exercise, social media classes, etc). The moment you stop investing in yourself is the moment you have written off future dividends in life.

 2) Be Curious…About Everything

What the average person sees as mundane or overly complicated is not viewed the same way with a billionaire mindset. I once had a 30 minute conversation with Enver about the height of the curbs in Washington DC versus Istanbul, Turkey.  Billionaires are incredibly curious; what the rest of the world thinks is a problem and complains about — that’s what these people go and work on.

3) Surround Yourself With “Better” People

I hope this is why they kept me around : Seriously, I never knew my bosses to keep anyone less-than-stellar in their inner circle. There were many times I thought to myself, “Damn, they have dream-teams built around them.” Jim Rohn had it right, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

 4) Never Eat Alone

The last time I had dinner with Enver, as well as the last time I ate dinner with Oprah, there were easily 15 people at our tables, respectively. Coincidence? While most of us derive our key information from blogs or the newspaper, power players get their information from the source (other power players), directly. However, just because you can’t call up the Obamas and break bread with them doesn’t mean eating with others in your circle doesn’t carry value. In one of my favorite reads of the last few years called Never Eat Alone author Keith Ferrazzi breaks down how you can identify “information brokers” to dine with you.  I’ve seen first hand how enormous the benefits are of this strategy.

 5) Take Responsibility For Your Losses

I was working for Oprah during the time she was taking heat from the media about poor network ratings. I was also working for Enver during the closing of one of his prized divisions. What I witnessed them both do in response was powerful. Opposed to covering the losses up with fancy PR tactics, both stepped to the stage and said in essence “I own it and I’m going to fix it” and dropped the mic. Guess what?  They sure did fix things (It’s widely noted Oprah’s network is realizing ratings gold and Enver’s assets have probably doubled since the division closing).

6) Understand The Power Of “Leverage”

This is something that was quite a shock to me. From afar, a billionaire appears to be someone who is a master at everything. But, in truth, they’re specialists in one or a few areas and average or subpar at everything else. So, how do they get so much done? Leverage! They do what they do best and get others to do the rest . Here’s a great article on leverage. Keep in mind I see this done with wealthy people and their money all of the time – they use OPM (other people’s money) for most or all of their projects.

 7) Take No Days Off (Completely)

I recall going on vacation with Enver several times, yachting up and down the southwestern coast of Turkey (also known as the blue voyage). Sounds ballerific, right? No doubt we had a great time, but mixed in with all that swimming and backgammon was discussion of business, discussion of strategy, planning and plotting. The best way I can describe this habit is thinking about your business or your idea like your literal baby. No matter your distance, you don’t stop thinking of him/her (and after just having a second son, I can attest to this).

 8) Focus On Experiences vs. Material Possessions

When you have money, your toys are big. However, the vast majority of money I saw spent on their “leisure” was on actual experiences versus the typical car, jewelry, and clothes we’re familiar with seeing in music videos and gossip blogs. I recall one time at dinner with Oprah, I spotted a table of about 20 girls off to the side. I later found out Ms. Winfrey was treating some of her graduating girls from her school in South Africa to dinner in NYC. Experiences create memories, and memories are priceless.

 9) Take Enormous Risks

This is another one of those successful habits every entrepreneur can attest to. A matter of fact, created a great infographic outlining commonalities of the world’s billionaires and one of the most prominent was this characteristic: billionaires are not adverse to risk. What intrigues me even more about Enver and Oprah was that even at their high financial status and success level, they still possessed a willingness to risk their most precious asset (their name and legacy) on new and bolder projects. If you’re not taking risks, you’re not making moves!

 10) Don’t Go At It Alone

Nothing great in life is achieved alone. Especially in business, success isn’t a solo act. This character trait is akin to “surrounding yourself with better people.” It takes teamwork to make the dream work.

 What I witnessed from working for Enver and Oprah were characteristics and successful habits that not only apply to business “wins,” but also translate to general life success. I sincerely hope the tips I’ve shared here will inspire you to create (or maintain) great habits for your success. If you’re ready to learn more now and want to get my take on how successful business people build personal brands and an audience, read this! Otherwise, if you want to read Part 2 of what I learned working for 2 billionaires, here it is!

Good Morning, Friends

April 2, 2016

Hello World,

Before I begin my day, I want to leave you with this thought from the  1conic John Lennon. I will be back to blog later after I return from a function  at The University of Cambodia which will start shortly. This function is organized to welcome undergraduates whose lives we are going to make a big difference, for them and their wonderful country, Cambodia. I always enjoy the company of eager beavers. They make me feel so young.

Popularity is for politicians who can look you in your face and lie.  Sincerity is for me. I value my friends and they are the people who are always with me and accept me for who and what I am. Kamsiah Haider is my best of friends because she can put up with me. I am basically an irritant.–Din Merican

Asia Sentinel’s John Berthelsen pays tribute to The Malaysian Insider

March 15,2016

Asia Sentinel’s John Berthelsen pays tribute to The Malaysian Insider

Influential Malaysian Website Closes Down

Malaysian Insider’s Talented and Courageous Editor Jahabar Sadiq

Malaysian Insider, one of Malaysia’s two most influential independent news websites, has shut down publication after eight years, the victim partly of financial difficulties and more because of unrelenting political pressure on the part of beleaguered Prime Minister Najib Razak, sources in Kuala Lumpur said.

The closure of the Insider leaves Malaysiakini, which has published since 1999, as the leading independent news site. It now carries English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil editions.

  “We worked as impartial journalists to inform Malaysians and other readers so that they could make informed decisions,” said Editor Jahabar Sadiq in a parting note on the website. “We worked to make all voices heard in this marketplace of ideas. But our work in The Malaysian Insider has now come to an end in a Malaysia that more than ever requires more clarity, transparency and information.”

The website was said to be losing RM300,000-400,000 (US$73.000-93,000) per month before it was hit hard when the government blocked it permanently on Feb. 25. It printed a story quoting a source from the panel that oversees the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission saying there is sufficient evidence to file charges over alleged financial misdeeds by Prime Minister Najib Razak. Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali refused to use the evidence to charge the Prime Minister with wrongdoing in January. The blockage put it into even more financial peril.

Growth under Edge

Malaysian Insider was taken over by The Edge Media Group in 2014 and expanded considerably.  However, it actually became a casualty of the enormous scandal over the state-funded 1Malaysia Development Bhd. that has engulfed Najib and expanded to several countries.

Tong Kooi Ong, the owner of the Edge Group, and Ho Kay Tat, the publisher, ran into deep trouble with the government last year when they printed a detailed series of articles based on emails stolen by Andre Xavier Justo, a Swiss national, from a mysterious Middle Eastern oil exploration company called PetroSaudi International that implicated Jho Low, the flamboyant financier who helped to set up the troubled 1Malaysia Development Bhd. fund, backed by the Malaysian government. The documents detailed a huge web of misuse of public money.

The government cracked down on The Edge, Malaysia’s most influential financial publication, suspending it and its sister news operations from publication for three months, later shortened to two months by the courts, and temporarily jailing Tong and Ho. The suspension is said to have played havoc with The Edge’s finances, cutting circulation and frightening away advertisers.

In a press release put out March 14, Ho Kay Tat said The Edge Media Group had incurred losses of RM10 million in the 20 months since it had acquired Malaysian Insider. Negotiations with three existing media groups to take over the publication fell through, he said. “Despite the fact that TMI is one of the top three news portals based on traffic in Malaysia because of its courageous news reporting, it did not receive enough commercial support to keep it going,” he said.

“A lot had to do with political pressure,” a political analyst in Kuala Lumpur said in a telephone conversation. “It may have been a commercial decision, but the major problem was political pressure on Tong and The Edge. Both Tong and Kay Tat  have been hailed in by the Police twice over the Insider’s reports on the MACC, so in the end they decided that because it was losing money, it was also putting too much pressure on the other businesses, so what’s the point? It was a business decision.”

In its eight years of operation, Malaysian Insider established a standard of professional journalism that is rare in Malaysia, especially in websites but in the mainstream media as well. All of the major media in the country are owned by component political parties of the ruling Barisan Nasional, or national coalition. Impartial news does not leak out of any of these black holes.

“The closure of Malaysian Insider will leave a huge vacuum in independent reporting in Malaysia, regrettably at a time the country desperately needs the media to play its role of protecting the national interest,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative.” It is no coincidence that the probing and respected news publication was forced to close down a month after the government media regulator blocked access to its site. Najib clearly hopes that by censoring and intimidating the media that the 1MDB scandal story will simply go away. But the more pressure he puts on the media, the more guilty he looks and the more damage he does to his already battered legacy.”

Najib is fast becoming a pariah in international diplomacy, not just because of the extent of the scandal but because of the astonishing lengths he has gone to in his attempts to contain it, including firing his deputy prime minister and the attorney general, eviscerating investigative panels looking into the matter and neutralizing other investigations.


Asia Sentinel’s John Berthelsen

Two suspicious deaths have occurred in connection with Najib’s affairs involving his personal bank accounts at Ambank in Kuala Lumpur. In one, Hussain Najadi, the founder of the bank, was gunned down in a parking lot in 2013. His son, Pascal Najadi, has charged that his father had complained loudly about Najib’s  financial activities and those of United Malays National Organization figures seeking to involve him in what Pascal said were suspect financial dealings.  In the second, Kevin Morais, a senior investigator looking into Najib’s accounts for the MACC was murdered, his body stuffed into an oil barrel and rolled into a river last September. (READ: Malaysia’s AG: Whistle-blowing Detrimental to Health)

Najib has systematically sought to close down all dissenting voices. Sarawak Report and Asia Sentinel, the two most active international websites, have been blocked.  At least 33 opponents of the regime have been charged with sedition including seven opposition members of parliament for making remarks critical of the government, the judiciary or Malaysia’s sultans. Last year the government pushed through amendments to the Sedition Act to increase penalties for violations and make it easier to use the law against online speech.  Dozens of people have been arrested for participating in peaceful protests.

The government also brought back indefinite detention without trial by passing the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), which allows a government-appointed board to impose detention without trial for up to two years, renewable indefinitely with no possibility of judicial review. In December, it passed a sweeping National Security Council law that allows the prime minister to declare security areas within which restraints on police power are suspended.

Making sense of American Politics: Race to The White House 2016

March 9, 2016

Making sense of American Politics: Race to The White House 2016

The Opinion Pages

The Conversation

With Arthur C. Brooks and Gail Collins

Trying to catch up with Donald Trump

Arthur Brooks: Hi, Gail. What a week, right? No huge surprises on Super Tuesday, as Trump increased his plurality with wins in a majority of states. Thursday’s Republican debate was yet another dumpster fire of insults and name-calling.

But then the plot thickened. On Saturday, Cruz had massive wins in Kansas and Maine, and only narrowly lost to Trump in Kentucky and Louisiana. As of now, Cruz is closely trailing Trump in the delegate count — Trump is up 384-300. Rubio is a distant third at 151.

The Democrats, on the other hand, have gotten enviably boring. At this point, the Clinton campaign’s grim march to victory is looking inevitable, right?

Gail Collins: Arthur, I have already admitted that the Hillary-Bernie battle has ceased to be all that thrilling. Really — issues, issues, issues. Yawn. I’m sure the Democrats wish they could have all the excitement and color of Donald Trump stomping toward the nomination over the still-struggling bodies of the most hated man in the Senate and an increasingly juvenile Floridian who’s terrified he’ll lose his own state.

Arthur: You’re a regular Don Rickles today. Next you’ll call John Kasich a hockey puck.

Gail: Show respect. Kasich beat Marco Rubio for third place in Maine. And he’s promised that if he’s elected he’ll reunite Pink Floyd.

Arthur: Well, reuniting Pink Floyd could be a controversial policy. They’re foreigners and will take the jobs of hard-working American rock musicians.

I wanted to ask your thoughts on an under-reported factoid that caught my eye this week: Sanders actually took a slightly larger percentage of Democratic votes cast on Super Tuesday than Trump took on the Republican side (39 percent versus 38 percent). They were dead even in places like Virginia and Massachusetts. Yet the media reported Super Tuesday as a humiliation for Bernie and a huge, huge win for Trump.

I continue to maintain that Trumpmania is as much a press phenomenon as a popular phenomenon, and supply is in large part creating its own demand. What do you think?

Gail: The press hardly made him up. In fact, speaking on behalf of the political writers of America, I would like to point out that 99 percent of us totally discounted his candidacy until he started to climb in the polls.

Arthur: You’re right, almost everybody discounted his candidacy at first. But the media covered him like the O.J. trial. During one window last summer, he was given 78 percent of the primetime CNN coverage of all the Republican candidates. That was seven times the total airtime for the next closest contender. This amounted to a de facto press blackout on everyone else. Kind of amazing that Cruz or Rubio could get any traction at all.

Gail: Bottom line from the last week is that Cruz will probably be the last non-Donald standing. I know you don’t take sides in these matters, but you know a lot of serious, establishment Republicans. What fills them with more horror – Nominee Cruz or Nominee Trump?

Arthur: Well, I think the term establishment is increasingly problematic now that it is used to describe Tea Party favorites like Senators Mike Lee and Ben Sasse. But to answer your question without picking sides myself, I have heard many on the center-right say they would prefer Cruz. The chief reason they give is the Supreme Court, where Cruz has won five cases. Those who support Cruz feel that he can be counted on to make appointments in the Scalia mold. And there is no fear that he might nominate Judge Judy.

Here’s something I always meant to ask you. As a loyal fan of your regular column, I sense that you were a bit more optimistic about some of the mainstream Republican candidates early on, but then soured on all of them. What happened?

Gail: Optimistic is a term I would never use about this group. But it is true that early on I was impressed by the fresh faces on the Republican side. Fresh faces was obviously not a great Democratic plus factor.

Then it turned out all the fresh faces were terrible candidates. Just take the way Marco Rubio turned into a Trump Mini-me — the man who gave the Republican campaign the new theme of undersized genitals. Geesh.

Arthur: As the father of multiple teenagers (pray for me), I am not going to defend silly name-calling. But I can’t agree at all that Rubio is a Trump clone. Like or dislike him, he is a serious candidate with a lot of policy ideas. And as far as I know, there’s no Rubio University, Rubio Palace or Rubio Steaks.

Gail: I’m not totally sure if Marco had ever been offered a chance at a line of steaks, he’d have turned it down. This is not a guy who should be looking to do battle about personal finances.

Arthur: Who among us would turn down a fabulous line of steaks bearing our name? I think “Brooks Steaks” has a nice ring to it. Although I don’t really eat that stuff, and also everyone would think it was David Brooks. So scratch that. But sorry — go on.

Gail: We’ll see what happens in the Florida primary, but I’m betting we won’t have Marco to kick around much longer.

You know, there’s more to this story than a lack of quality opposition to Trump. The Republicans have also lost contact with their people. The degree of alienation between the party and its voters is way, way more than on the Democratic side.

Arthur: Again, not so sure I agree here. It’s hard to find a young Democrat who doesn’t have a jaundiced view of the Clinton coronation process. Sanders is a reaction against the party establishment and has the same level of support as Trump.

Gail: Totally different. Sanders has a well-formed ideology that’s perfectly consistent. His big targets are Wall Street and its big campaign donors, which is hardly foreign material within the Democratic Party. And while it’s true that a lot of young people are not thrilled by the idea of another Clinton in the White House, I don’t think I’ve met any who wouldn’t come out to vote for her against Trump or Cruz.

Imagine what the Republicans would give now for a completely qualified, mainstream leading contender, whatever the downside.

Arthur: I admire your mainstreaming of Bernie, but I continue to maintain that he’s mostly a protest vote. His ideology is indeed consistent — with Eugene V. Debs and other 1920s socialists. I hear his pick to replace Scalia would be the French economist Thomas Piketty. O.K., I just made that up for effect. But still.

As to everyone voting for Clinton over Trump, it’s sort of notable that erstwhile Democratic candidate Jim Webb this week said he wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, but he wouldn’t rule out voting for Trump. Whether or not this would ever really happen, it’s kind of a striking statement, right?

Gail: Jim Webb is – I don’t know. A guy who always thought he was a bigger deal than reality suggested. Now in such a deep sulk that he’s looking for the most shocking thing he can say to get attention. Anybody who desperately wants publicity is going to announce for Donald Trump. If you’re a “Dancing with the Stars” also-ran trying to rekindle a career, chances are your publicist is not going to urge you to endorse Marco Rubio.

Arthur: Before we finish, I want to get your prediction on what’s about to happen in the Republican Party. What do you think are the odds that no one wins a majority of delegates and we wind up with an open convention in Cleveland?

Gail: Every political writer goes to bed at night and dreams of an open convention. We’d be breaking the news about sudden movement in the Nebraska delegation and the whole world would be hanging on every word. So I am definitely in favor, but sort of dubious that it will happen in the real world. But you’re way better at numbers than I am. What’s your bet?

Arthur: Lots and lots of unhappy Republicans are hoping for this, but I think you are right — it is still a pretty remote possibility. The winner-take-all primaries on the 15th make it more likely that even a candidate with considerably less than a majority of votes gets more than 50 percent of the delegates at the convention.

But if it’s Trump, what then? Here’s a multiple-choice quiz for you:Republicans fall in line and support Trump; the party fractures, with a big percentage overtly disavowing their nominee and staying home; a movement takes shape to start a new party or support a third-party candidate; we all wake up and say, “I had the weirdest dream last night.”

Gail: Well, if they’re going for C, they’d better get their act together and start collecting signatures this weekend. Since Trump has virtually no personal convictions when it comes to the issues, I can imagine him sewing up the nomination and then coming out with a traditional, responsible-sounding platform that would give some of the Republican mainstream cover.

Arthur: Plus, free steaks for everybody!

Gail: Can I throw a rhetorical question at you? Republican leaders like Mitt Romney who are suddenly standing up to Trump — where were they two months ago? Aren’t they a little late to the fair?

Arthur: I think they just didn’t believe that Trump was an authentic threat, and didn’t want to alienate his supporters unnecessarily. It kind of reminds me of what my Democratic friends explained to me when Al Sharpton — who they privately felt was a polarizing, negative figure — was briefly running for president in 2004.

Gail: The idea that a blast from Mitt Romney is going to mute the Trump boom at this point in the game is pretty hilarious. I am tempted to say that Romney’s only chance of having an impact would be to tie Donald to the roof of his car.

Arthur: Ha. So much for your promise to retire Seamus the Irish setter. I doubt Romney expected to move the race, but I’m sure he felt it was the right thing to do to speak up publicly about what he sees as a major threat to his party and country. Perhaps it came too late, but at least he went on record with his views.

Gail: As Guam goes, so goes the nation. And this week, we’ve got debates! Dems on Wednesday, Republicans on Thursday. All signs point to a boring, issue-oriented exchange on the Democratic side while the four guys in suits bring thrills, chills and lots of insults. It’s like a PBS round-table discussion on campaign finance versus a Don Rickles Celebrity Roast. So lucky for the G.O.P. to be on the exciting end of everything, hehehehe.

Arthur: I think you’re right that there’s an exciting week ahead for the Republicans, but my spider sense tells me that it will be something more substantial than chair-throwing at the debate. Stay tuned.

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We are reconnected thanks to the Phnom Penh City Authorities

March 8, 2016

We are reconnected thanks to the Phnom Penh City Authorities

Sorry guys, we were disconnected for 24 hours because  of construction activities in  the part of Phnom Penh city where The University of Cambodia is located not far from the Pochentong International Airport. The contractors were laying power cables over the new and modern flyover. Internet connections were restored two hours ago to enable me to clear all your comments and start blogging again. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

To All Women in Cambodia and around the world, Happy International Women’s Day. Thanks for Making the World a Better Place for all us. In your honour, Special People and Mothers, here is Michael Jackson for you–Din Merican

Doing Malaysia Proud

February 26, 2016

Doing Malaysia Proud: A Malaysian Dentist who Learns, Unlearns and Relearns

Friends and associates,

I am naturally proud to feature my dear wife, Dr Kamsiah Haider who was recently interviewed by Dr. Howard Farran, a Dentist with MBA on his program Dentistry Uncensored. She tells us about her dedication to the practice of dentistry and what it took her to be a successful one.  You need passion and strong commitment to be respected by her patients and admired by those who know her.

Her dental ethos is summed up in these 3-words–Learn, Unlearn and Relearn.In terms of her attitude towards her profession, I consider her as one of a kind in Malaysia. For her, earning a decent income is the consequence of doing the right thing for one’s patients. –Din Merican




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